Sales in the Age of the Buyer

Sales in the age of the customer header

This is the first post in a 2 part series about how your sales approach affects your customers. The current B2B landscape is filled with examples of poor sales processes. Too often, salespeople meet with customers who are better prepared than they are for that meeting. Imagine how this is perceived by your buyer. This isn’t just lip service, a bad sales meeting can have a lasting effect on your bottom line.

So, perhaps it’s worth taking a closer look at some of the bad habits that you might want to consider in the early stages of your sales process which lead to bad sales meetings. Let’s start selling in the age of the buyer.

Don’t trick the buyer

Buyer’s are oftentimes more informed than sales people that service them. That’s because your buyers spends most of their time online doing research into your product. Research shows that 87% of B2B buyers search the web for information on the product they’re buying before they reach out to sales. Content marketers have made this very easy to do by supplying buyers with more information than ever. However; this also results in the fact that almost half of the sales professionals meet with customers who are better prepared.

The buyer asks about your product via social media, they look on your website or simply spend 20 minutes scrolling Google for relevant information. They’ll look for tutorials, testimonials, product features and most importantly, pricing to get a general sense of cost. This shows the importance of creating strong, relevant content. Especially in B2B marketing where the perceived risk is higher and the decision making unit is oftentimes larger than just one person.

That’s why simple, intuitive, communication is so important. In this case, your website should have number 1 priority. Which shouldn’t be a problem in this day and age of the digital marketer. In fact, 60% of companies have implemented some element of inbound marketing. This could be SEO, blogging, usability, content development etc.

The journey continues offline

After doing their research online, the buyer continues offline to continue the process with sales. Unfortunately, for a lot of companies, there is something lost in translation between online and offline communications. The quality of online buying experience is not always the same as offline. The slick buying experience your website produced is lost when they meet a sales rep from the stone age. The quality of your online brand is often diluted when prospects talk to a salesperson that doesn’t know their product.

That’s because for most salespeople, it’s hard to keep up with the marketing automation system used by online marketers. Sales reps have to stay on top of all their accounts, they’ve got to follow-up, update the CRM, visit the customers etc. These actions quickly ramp up, asking for a lot of sales rep’s time.

In other words, the higher in the funnel, the better the brand experience. Yet, once prospects move further down the funnel, companies fail to deliver the same value. That’s a shame, since these interactions are the ones that matter the most. The result? A troubled brand image.

Over to you

Put yourself in your customer’s position and go on a journey. How easy is it to find information about your product online? How’s the quality of your content marketing? Is it easy to schedule a meeting? Do you have a hard time finding the phone number or the exact address? Next, follow your sales reps for one day. How do they sell? Is it in line with your brand? Is the messaging correct? What are their pains? And most importantly, why do they fail to close deals? Try to find out where you see misalignments between your online marketing and your offline sales.

To enhance your content marketing for offline sales, we’ve created an ebook that’ll turn you into the master of the craft. Learn how to create sales driven marketing.

This article originally appeared on the Showpad blog.

Leigh Shevchik

Dynamic marketing communications professional and strategist with over ten years experience creating and implementing content plans, social media programs and lead generation initiatives. Outstanding writer, editor and oral communicator who has held project manager and lead editorial roles. Passion for building and leading cross-function teams, project management and market research.

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